This research explores the factors and informal learning practices that influence inclusion in, and exclusion from, an open data initiative to engage farmers in the effective use of crop advisory agricultural information in Sri Lanka. Walton, Dearden and Densmore (2016) argue that the design of gateways will have an effect on the degree of inclusion within open development initiatives. Mobiles are regularly assumed to be accessible vehicles of open development, but in reality there are many informal learning processes, individual attributes and community dynamics that affect uptake. These aspects can also determine the extent and form by which marginalised people contribute as passive or active users.
This project investigates these claims within an open development initiative that provides crop advisory information to farmers. Qualitative research methods will be used to assess the learning processes by which farmers access the information provided through the mobile app, and the effect that factors such as digital literacy, socioeconomic status, literacy, gender, and land ownership status has on their interaction with this information, and the extent that they contribute back to their communities and the system. The project is funded by SIRCA III program. SIRCA is a theory and capacity building research program examining information society issues administered by the Singapore Internet Research Centre, and supported by the IDRC Information and Networks program.
Open Development SIRCA III Collaboration Workshop media report can be found here